Wednesday 26 November 2014

French worried Scots could produce best wines

Henry Samuel in Paris

Published 17/08/2009 | 00:00

Prominent French chefs have warned that the country's wines could lose their complexity and the best produce could come from Scotland if the effects of climate change are not tackled.

A group of chefs, sommeliers and chateaux has issued a call to action, urging the country to secure ambitious targets in the months ahead to limit global warming.

President Nicolas Sarkozy was issued a stark choice: save French wine by clinching a deal at the international climate conference in Copenhagen this December, or see generations of viticulture slowly die out as vineyards cross the Channel and head north.

"As flagships of our cultural heritage, elegant and refined, French wines are today in danger," 50 leading names from the world of French wine and food wrote in an open letter. "Marked by higher alcohol levels, over-sunned aromatic ranges and denser textures, our wines could lose their unique soul."

Among the signatories were Marc Veyrat, a chef with three Michelin stars, Mauro Colagreco, the award-winning chef, and Franck Thomas, who was voted the best sommelier in the world. The message was also supported by a host of domains from Champagne to Languedoc-Roussillon.

Heatwaves

Climate change has been blamed for degrading French vineyards, with heatwaves, giant hailstorms in Bordeaux and new plant diseases.

The signatories say that if global temperatures rise by more than 2pc before the end of the century, "our soil will not survive" and "wine will travel 1,000 kilometres beyond its traditional limits".

"We will have new wine-producing regions in zones where one doesn't normally cultivate vineyards like in Brittany and Normandy," said Jean-Pierre Chaban, a climatologist at France's National Institute for Scientific Research, in an accompanying online film. "It will spread to Great Britain. One can imagine vineyards in southern Sweden and Scotland."

The signatories want the government to push for a global deal to cut industrialised countries' greenhouse gas emissions by 40pc by 2020 and set up "solid aid mechanisms" for developing countries.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, there are now 416 vineyards in England and there are 2,732 acres of vines under cultivation -- an increase of 45pc in the past four years.

Julie Trustram Eve, from English Wine Producers, said: "There are, as far as we know, no vines yet in Scotland, although there have been rumours. It's gradually creeping up. It depends how accurate the predictions are for the long term, but some say by 2080 it will be too hot to grow grapes in southern England."

However, Roxanne Canvan Schayk, who runs a traditional fruit and flower wine shop at Lambholm in the Orkney islands, believes the French have nothing to fear. "It's far too windy for a start," she said.

(©Daily Telegraph, London)

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